The Sons of Champlin

After the Sons of Champlin's fourth album, Welcome to the Dance, got lost in the record company machinations surrounding the dismissal of Clive Davis from the presidency of CBS Records in 1973, the band was understandably gun shy about signing on with another label, and instead issued this self-titled fifth LP on its own Gold Mine Records. (The disc was later picked up for national distribution by Ariola America.) Able to make exactly the album they wanted, the musicians have come up with a mixture of lead singer, organist, and rhythm guitar player Bill Champlin's funky blue-eyed soul tunes and some more esoteric material. Champlin songs like the lead-off track, "Lookout," and the closer, a live take of "Goldmine," are catchy, punchy white R&B on which the singer's gruff voice and the three-man horn section make the group sound like a soul revue. But this is an octet in which other members' styles also come to the fore, notably horn player Mark Isham's atmospheric instrumental "Marp" and lead guitarist Terry Haggerty's showcase "Planet Ripper." Still, it all comes back to Champlin's songs, which have pop potential, especially the catchy "Like to Get to Know You." When an act that has been around for a while decides to name an album after itself, that's usually a sign that a career rebirth is intended, and that seems to be the case here. At least in part, the LP called The Sons of Champlin suggests that the band called the Sons of Champlin is looking to move beyond its star-crossed, flaky reputation and make some music that could scale the charts and expand its following.

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